FA gets £1.6m ‘warning’ to up grass-roots participation

Embarrassing cut driven by desire to increase efforts about falling number of players

Sports News Correspondent

The Football Association has had its public funding for the grass-roots game cut by £1.6m as a “warning” shot fired by Sport England for failing to halt a near decade-long decline in the number of adults playing football.

The money will still be made available to the game with Sport England appealing for clubs to become more directly involved in supporting the grass-roots. It may be the equivalent of five-and-a-half weeks’ work for Wayne Rooney under his new contract, but the decision to divert the funds away from the FA is a significant embarrassment for the governing body.

An irked FA responded with a barrage of information via social media outlining its grass-roots work, pointing out it invests around £50m a year, a figure that dwarfs its funding cut.

Sport England, the quango which funnels public money to sport and is charged with raising participation, awarded the FA £30m for a three-year period and in August agreed to the FA’s plan for raising numbers. In October, the latest results of the six-monthly survey revealed another decline for the sport. Since Sport England’s active people survey began in 2005 the number of those aged 16 and over playing football once a week has fallen from 2.02m to 1.84m.

Glenn Moore: Sport England - Councils make cuts and political class has lost interest

Part of the reason for the FA’s “disappointment” with the cut is the lack of time, it claims, for its current plans to have an impact. It is set to launch a new campaign aimed to keep 16-year-olds in the game – football’s participation among children remains high – but a further funding cut of 20 per cent remains a strong possibility as the participation figures are likely to fall again when the next results are announced in June following another dire winter.

Rugby union and cricket also suffered falls but have not had a cut – instead they have been put “on notice” – because Sport England is convinced by the plans those sports presented for raising participation.

“To be fair to the FA in the last three or four years they have focused much harder on the grass-roots,” said Jennie Price, chief executive of Sport England. “They are more engaged than they have been for some time. They do want to get it right but they need to accelerate their efforts. We want the FA to succeed but this should act as a warning to them that they’ve got to improve.

“I have a direct relationship with Alex Horne and that hasn’t always been the case with previous FA chief executives. I think [chairman] Greg Dyke really cares about every part of the game. But they need to change some of what they are doing and if this focuses even more attention on it then that can only be a good thing.”

Sport England will leave the £1.6m available to football via a new “Cities of Football” project – it wants local authorities, clubs or even private companies who run five-a-side venues to bid for funds, whether that be for extra coaches or improving facilities to act as an “example” to the FA.

How 1972 paper shows problem has been left to drift for decades

Horne, the FA’s general secretary, claimed its efforts had been hindered by a lack of time and pressure on facilities. Four out of five grass-roots facilities are run by local authorities, many of whom are having to carry out large scale cuts. “It’s naturally disappointing to learn that Sport England is cutting its funding, especially at a time when the challenges faced by the grass-roots are so acute,” he said. “It is especially disappointing as Sport England agreed and began funding our joint plan only in August and today’s decision is based on measurement undertaken just two months later in October.

“The government need to be careful because this money is being spent on sports participation on one hand, while on the other local authorities are cutting the local provision of sports facilities.

“Grass-roots football is played on facilities almost exclusively owned and maintained by local authorities. A combination of severe weather, increased pitch-hire costs and reduced maintenance spend has made this a very difficult time for clubs. This challenge – to ensure a much better provision of quality, affordable grass-roots facilities – is one we are determined to address.”

Price accepts that the provision of facilities is an issue but points out it is one that equally affects other outdoor team sports, such as cricket and rugby union – and football receives more funding.

Five other sports also had their funding cut. Between them golf, netball, mountaineering, rowing and hockey had a total of £1.2m removed.

Sport England: Funding cuts

Football Association £1.6m

England Golf Partnership £496,000

England Netball £275,000

British Rowing £236,000

England Hockey £137,000

British Mountaineering Council £97,000

*Badminton England, the England and Wales Cricket Board and the Rugby Football Union have all been placed “on notice”. Their participation levels have fallen but Sport England have been convinced by their plans to halt their declines. They have to improve participation levels by December or face a funding cut.

News
The surrealist comedian at the Q Awards in 2010
people
Life and Style
Six of the 76 Goats' cheese samples contained a significant amount of sheep's cheese
food + drink
News
Russell Brand arriving for the book launch in East London
peopleRussell Brand cancels his book launch debate due to concerns about the make-up of the panel
Life and Style
Could you tell the difference between this and an organic alternative?
food + drink

Culinary experts in The Netherlands thought it was 'fresh' and 'tasty'

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment
Contestants during this summer's Celebrity Big Brother grand finale
tvBroadcaster attempts to change its image following sale to US
Life and Style
tech

Of all the computers Apple has ever made there’s only one that Steve Jobs had to sell his car to finance

News
New look: Zellweger at Elle's Women in Hollywood awards on Monday

Actress sees off speculation about her face in an amazing way

Arts and Entertainment
Sarah Dales attempts to sell British Breeze in the luxury scent task
tvReview: 'Apprentice' candidates on the verge of tears as they were ejected from the boardroom
News
Call me Superman: one of many unusual names chosen by Chinese students
newsChinese state TV offers advice for citizens picking a Western moniker
Arts and Entertainment
film

Marvel has released first teaser trailer week early after it leaked online

Arts and Entertainment
Awesome foursome: Sam Smith shows off his awards
music22-year-old confirms he is 2014’s breakout British music success
Arts and Entertainment
Frank Sivero in Goodfellas; Simpsons' wise guy Louie

The sound of Goodfellas mafioso Frankie Carbone demanding $250m in “damages” would be chilling enough on film, let alone in real life.

News
Let’s pretend: KidZania in Tokyo
educationKidZania lets children try their hands at being a firefighter, doctor or factory worker for the day
News
i100
Voices
'Irritatingly Disneyfied': fashion vlogger Zoella
voicesVicky Chandler: Zoella shows us that feminism can come in all forms
Life and Style
health
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Bleacher Report

Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Day In a Page

How could three tourists have been battered within an inch of their lives by a burglar in a plush London hotel?

A crime that reveals London's dark heart

How could three tourists have been battered within an inch of their lives by a burglar in a plush London hotel?
Meet 'Porridge' and 'Vampire': Chinese state TV is offering advice for citizens picking a Western moniker

Lost in translation: Western monikers

Chinese state TV is offering advice for citizens picking a Western moniker. Simon Usborne, who met a 'Porridge' and a 'Vampire' while in China, can see the problem
Handy hacks that make life easier: New book reveals how to rid your inbox of spam, protect your passwords and amplify your iPhone

Handy hacks that make life easier

New book reveals how to rid your email inbox of spam, protect your passwords and amplify your iPhone with a loo-roll
KidZania lets children try their hands at being a firefighter, doctor or factory worker for the day

KidZania: It's a small world

The new 'educational entertainment experience' in London's Shepherd's Bush will allow children to try out the jobs that are usually undertaken by adults, including firefighter, doctor or factory worker
Renée Zellweger's real crime has been to age in an industry that prizes women's youth over humanity

'Renée Zellweger's real crime was to age'

The actress's altered appearance raised eyebrows at Elle's Women in Hollywood awards on Monday
From Cinderella to The Jungle Book, Disney plans live-action remakes of animated classics

Disney plans live-action remakes of animated classics

From Cinderella to The Jungle Book, Patrick Grafton-Green wonders if they can ever recapture the old magic
Thousands of teenagers to visit battlefields of the First World War in new Government scheme

Pupils to visit First World War battlefields

A new Government scheme aims to bring the the horrors of the conflict to life over the next five years
The 10 best smartphone accessories

Make the most of your mobile: 10 best smartphone accessories

Try these add-ons for everything from secret charging to making sure you never lose your keys again
Mario Balotelli substituted at half-time against Real Madrid: Was this shirt swapping the real reason?

Liverpool v Real Madrid

Mario Balotelli substituted at half-time. Was shirt swapping the real reason?
West Indies tour of India: Hurricane set to sweep Windies into the shadows

Hurricane set to sweep Windies into the shadows

Decision to pull out of India tour leaves the WICB fighting for its existence with an off-field storm building
Indiana serial killer? Man arrested for murdering teenage prostitute confesses to six other murders - and police fear there could be many more

A new American serial killer?

Police fear man arrested for murder of teen prostitute could be responsible for killing spree dating back 20 years
Sweetie, the fake 10-year-old girl designed to catch online predators, claims her first scalp

Sting to trap paedophiles may not carry weight in UK courts

Computer image of ‘Sweetie’ represented entrapment, experts say
Fukushima nuclear crisis: Evacuees still stuck in cramped emergency housing three years on - and may never return home

Return to Fukushima – a land they will never call home again

Evacuees still stuck in cramped emergency housing three years on from nuclear disaster
Wildlife Photographer of the Year: Intimate image of resting lions claims top prize

Wildlife Photographer of the Year

Intimate image of resting lions claims top prize
Online petitions: Sign here to change the world

Want to change the world? Just sign here

The proliferation of online petitions allows us to register our protests at the touch of a button. But do they change anything?